Peter Rhodes on a scruffy reporter, a warning from history and are MPs paid enough?

Justin Rowlatt, the BBC's climate editor, is again under fire from viewers for his dishevelled appearance at the Cop27 summit. And yet, in his “gardening jeans,” open-necked shirt and greying stubble, is he not an inspiration for this climate-terror age?

MPs' pay - 'mediocre'?
MPs' pay - 'mediocre'?

He sets a fine example in bathroom frugality, apparently making a single razor blade last for the entire conference. As for those manky jeans, if you seriously believe the end is nigh, as Rowlatt seems to, you're hardly going to blow seventy quid on a new pair of Levi's. These are not gardening jeans. They are Armageddon jeans.

As Ukrainian troops occupy territory left by the retreating Russians, let's hope they remember a lesson from the First World War. In March 1917, the German Army suddenly abandoned its trenches and moved back several miles, retreating to the “impregnable” Hindenburg Line. As the British and Australian allies advanced in a cautious pursuit, they found scorched-earth desolation. Every bridge, house and pane of glass was destroyed. It got worse. Booby traps were everywhere. Many an Allied soldier was killed or maimed for picking up a helmet or bottle of wine attached to a bomb.

On March 23, 1917, after the advancing Australians were moving through the French town of Bapaume, a massive cache of explosives in the town-hall cellars was detonated by a delayed-action device set by the Germans at least eight days earlier. Forty-three Aussies and two French politicians were killed. If the Ukrainians know their military history they will treat every building in and around Kherson with extreme caution. Remember Bapaume.

My eye was caught by a column suggesting the reason Britain has so many second-rate politicians is partly because of their “mediocre pay.” Many MPs like to claim they could earn much more in the private sector than in the Commons. I recall meeting an unusually frank and honest candidate before the 2010 General Election. Working for a private firm, she was earning average pay and said, if she were elected as an MP, her new salary would be “like a win on the lottery.”

Back in 2010 the average salary was about £25,000 and MPs were paid £62,000. Today, the average salary is about £33,000 and MPs get £84,000. Not so mediocre, eh?

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